Previously, we chose a domain and setup hosting for our site. Now, we’re going to focus on doing some basic setup for our WordPress site and choosing a theme to create the layout and look of our site.
WordPress comes pretty well setup out of the box, but there are a few settings that can help us achieve greater results. We’ll go over these below. Additionally, WordPress uses themes to style and create layout for your site. While your content stays the same, choosing different themes changes how you content looks and is laid out.
Choosing a theme is an important step in the process as it sets the tone for your site. We will focus on choosing a theme that shows off the mission of our organization while providing a solid base in terms of code quality, design aesthetic and portability in case we choose to move to a different theme in the future or hire a developer to create a custom theme.
Setting up WordPress to maximize your efforts
Out of the box, WordPress comes with an assortment of settings preconfigured for the general use case. But we are focusing our efforts on providing a means to raise funds and spread brand awareness for a nonprofit organization, not running a blog or creating a portfolio site. So we need to do a little maintenance to give us the most return on our efforts.
First, I recommend changing the permalinks to “pretty permalinks” or telling WordPress to use human readable URLs rather than page id numbers. You can set permalinks by hovering over Settings in the WordPress Dashboard menu and clicking “Permalinks.”
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While any of the options listed will work, I recommend choosing “Post Name.” This will set all of your pages and posts to use their title as the URL structure. If you are planning on having a blog that you post to very often, you might use “Month and Name” instead as this can prevent problems with duplicate post names and can prevent issues with site speed when you have thousands of posts.
Secondly, I recommend taking a look at the Settings page and setting things like your site title and description to match that of your organization. You can also take this chance to change the timezone to match your locale. It bears saying that going through all the Settings panels and knowing what each one features and defaults to is always a good idea so that you begin to understand WordPress as a software.
Choosing a theme for your fundraising site
Themes can be a polarizing topic in the WordPress community. There are so many styles, so many opinions and so many way to go about things that you’ll find differing opinions everywhere. However, for our purposes, we simply need something simple, clean and well-coded. WordPress offers a wide variety of free and paid (premium) theme options from a wide variety of online sources.
For the purposes of this tutorial, we’re going to choose a theme from our friends over at churchthemes.net. These guys know what they are doing. The themes handcrafted by these guys are beautiful and coded to the highest standards. They currently offer two themes, Shepherd and Uplifted. We’ll choose Shepherd for our fundraising site.
Simply fill out the registration form after clicking the Download button. Once you register the download starts automatically. Then go to your WordPress dashboard and click “Appearance.” Click “Add New” and then “Upload Theme.” Once there, you can upload the zip file that you downloaded and activate the theme. You now have a fundraising site with a beautiful theme installed!
Next time, we’ll install some plugins and setup the site to take donations. As always, if you have questions, let me know in the comments. If this was helpful, please share!